shawn’s bio

For writer-director Shawn Ku, it all started when he realized that his parents had brainwashed him into thinking he wanted to be a doctor. What an Asian-American cliche. So what would he do with that undergraduate Chemistry degree from Harvard University? Absolutely nothing. Shawn became a dancer and singer and performed in the Broadway productions of the Tony Award-winning shows Miss Saigon, The King and I, La Cage Aux Folles and Fosse. But constantly being assumed to be a brainless chorus boy was dispiriting. So he left that life of standing ovations, attended film school at the University of Southern California, took a momentary detour to star in the internationally acclaimed feature Samsara (which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 9/11 and for which he received an AFI FEST Jury Prize for his performance), and then returned to USC to earn his MFA in Film Production.

Shawn’s film school thesis Pretty Dead Girl – A Musical Necromance premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won some awards on its worldwide festival tour. Its cult following led to it currently being developed into a full-length stage musical production with Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang.

Shawn’s feature film debut Beautiful Boy (which he wrote and directed) brought him back to the Toronto Film Festival and garnered him the International Federation of Film Critics’ prestigious FIPRESCI Prize and Giffoni International Film Festival’s Gryphon Award for Best Film. Other writing credits include Feel The Beat (starring Sophia Carson from Disney Channel’s “Descendants” trilogy and one of Netflix’s top 20 films of 2020), its sequel Feel The Beat 2, White and Rice (which earned him the All Access Creative Promise Award Honorable Mention at the Tribeca Film Festival), Thanksgiving (which is going into production in Mexico this year) and the adaptation of the beloved Southern romance novel Goodbye to the Buttermilk Sky (which he will direct when it goes into production this year). Other directorial credits include A Score to Settle starring Nicolas Cage, Lifetime Television’s Seeds Of Yesterday (the last installment of the acclaimed Flowers In The Attic Series), MTV’s The American Mall (for which he received a DGA Award nomination), and Crackle’s web series Sequestered (IAWTV Award nominee for which he was both director and Executive Producer).

View samples of Shawn Ku’s work here.